Unisa Principal and Vice -Chancellor. Prof Mandla Makhanya during the prestigious event where black consciousness leader Steve Biko was bestowed with an honorary degree. Pictures: ANA
Pretoria - South African academics are playing an influential role and competing with their counterparts in the world to produce quality research.

These were the sentiments expressed by Unisa Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mandla Makhanya, during an award ceremony for academics who excelled in various post-doctoral research work in the country.

The awards were held at Unisa’s Kgorogo Building in Pretoria on Friday night.

More than 70 recipients were rewarded for producing exceptional research work in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering, business leadership and accounting studies.

One of the celebrated recipients was, Dr S Jansen van Rensburg for her research work in law. Jansen van Rensburg 30, obtained her doctoral degree in law two years ago.

She was given the 2017 Young Female Doctoral Graduate Award. Former President Thabo Mbeki - who is also Unisa’s Chancellor - was present at the awards ceremony.

“Our commitment to advancing women in research, and especially black women, is a matter of pride and is bearing fantastic results. Fundamental to our approach is a commitment to excellence and support for our early career researchers, emerging research leaders and researchers from designated groups.

“It is quite simply, the right thing to do if we are to meet and overcome the challenges posed by our developmental state, and the imperative for genuine and lasting transformation.”

He also applauded those researchers whose body of work was recognised and cited internationally.

Makhanya said South African universities, including Unisa, were influencing the interpretation of the political and academic dialogue of the present day world.

“Well, in 2018 we can no longer deny that higher education the world over, is in an unprecedented state of flux. A host of accretive socio-economic and political forces have created a hugely disruptive nexus that is reshaping our world as we know it, prompting a global re-evaluation of the shape and role of education in a very opaque future.”

He said internationalisation of education has forced institutions to collaborate in research beyond the borders of their own country.

“For Unisa this is good news at a time when we are engaged in a fundamental phase of transformation towards our vision of being the African university that is shaping futures in the service of humanity.

“We are called to grow our researchers, and our research outputs, and to conduct the developmental benefits of the Sustainable Development Growth.

“But we are also called on, line with our strategy and status as an internationally acknowledged Open Distance and e-Learningy, to engage in cross-national collaborative research work.”

Weekend Argus